Foundational to Christianity is certainty that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. It is a human but also a divine product written without errors and transmitted reliably to us today. Questions concerning this abound: Why Trust the Bible? Can I trust the Bible? Why do you trust that the Bible is the Word of God? How do we know it is true and reliable and understandable? How did we get the Bible?
Christians believe that the Bible is trustworthy, reliable, and the Word of God. This means every book and every word it contains in the Bible is believed to be directly from God Himself. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. Therefore, the Bible is the sole and final authority for all of Christian beliefs, doctrine, and practice, both personally and in the church. Why should anyone trust the Bible? There are many reasons, primarily historical and theological.
Reliable Transmission. The Bible records people’s interactions with God. The Bible is the best-preserved text in history. Ancient texts were very expensive and difficult to make, so they were written and made with care. Then they were copied with extreme care, especially the Old Testament (OT) & New Testament (NT) because the copiers believed them to be the very words of God. The OT was meticulously copied, even to the point where every book had a number count for the number of words it contained. If a copy was found to be lacking a word, often the entire copying process was started again and flawed copies were destroyed! The NT has over 5,700 Greek copies of the text known in existence, a large portion of them dating to between the second and fifth centuries (along with translations and quotes from the early church fathers). All of these manuscripts have been collected and then compared with one another to determine the original reading of the manuscript written by the apostles themselves! It is stated that the NT is 99% accurate to the original writings and that none of these differences affect any major biblical teaching.
Historically Accurate. The Bible is also a historical document in that it mentions people’s names, actions, city names, cultures, customs, major world events, economics, religions, etc. Historians have studied the Bible in depth and have found it to be extremely accurate in everything it claims historically (there are some things that are contested, but this is because the evidence may be incomplete, or historians are biased against the Bible). The Bible has been proven time and time again to be historically and archeologically accurate in what it records, therefore this lends credibility to the belief that it is accurate in everything else, especially theology. Conservative Bible scholars do not believe there are any historical inaccuracies or errors in the Bible of any kind.
Trustworthy NT & Eyewitness Claim. As mentioned, the NT is the best supported text in history. The Gospel records claim to be eyewitness accounts of the life, death, resurrection, and teachings of Jesus Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The early belief that Jesus died for sins and rose from the dead in the Christian church was universal and central. Christians were even being put to death in the 60s AD in Rome for this testimony. This powerfully points to the reality of what Christians believed, especially since eyewitnesses would have still been alive, including the original apostles, during this time. The apostles were willing to suffer and be put to death because they would not deny they saw Jesus risen from the grave. It is radical to doubt that Jesus never existed, never did any miracles, never claimed to be the Son of God or to be the payment for sins, or could not possibly have risen from the dead.
Unity of Doctrine. One of the most astounding features of the Bible is its unity in teaching. The Bible was written over 1500 years with around 40 different authors, and yet they tell one story of redemption and present the exact same message of salvation by faith and repentance. They have the same view of God, sin, salvation, end times, the Word of God, morality, etc. We would expect this because they are all testifying to one God and one way of salvation. Plus, we would expect that God would consistently say the same thing and not contradict Himself (e.g., morality, statements of fact), and this is exactly what we find in the Bible over a long period of time with different authors.
Bible’s Claims for Itself. If we are starting to trust the Bible, then we have to start examining what it says about itself. The Bible claims to be the very Words of God. The OT says over 1,000 times “the Lord said,” recording exactly what God then said. The OT says that no one is to add or to subtract from God’s Words other than God Himself through prophets who spoke for Him (Deut 4:2). The OT teaches that every Word recorded from God is absolutely true (Ps 119:160; Prov 30:5; John 17:17). The NT’s main claim is that all Scripture, considered sacred words of God, has been inspired by God and is to be obeyed, taught, and preached, and teaches the way of salvation (2 Tim 3:15-4:2). Inspiration mainly means that the Bible is viewed as having its source in God, therefore it comes with His authority. These are very strong claims and should be considered.
Jesus Trusted the Bible. Additionally, it does not make sense to claim belief in Jesus Christ or that He was a good man and teacher if one does not agree with how Jesus viewed the Bible. Jesus absolutely trusted the OT Scriptures He had at the time. He spoke with authority and claimed what He said was equal with what God said. Then He gave this authority to the apostles who wrote or oversaw the writing of every book in the NT. Jesus quoted most OT books, showing He believed them to be trustworthy and accurate as being the very words of God. Jesus mentions the law, the psalms, and the prophets, covering all of the books of the OT (Luke 16:16; 24:27, 44). Jesus said the OT was the Word of God written by the Spirit of God (John 10:35; Mark 12:36). Jesus claimed that not one jot or tittle from the OT law or prophets would fail to be fulfilled (Matt 5:17-18). The jot and tittle were the smallest markings on Hebrew letters (like dotting the I or crossing the t), therefore Jesus’ trust that the OT was the authoritative Word of God is extremely precise and comprehensive. If anyone is beginning to think that Jesus was a good teacher or the Son of God, then we should accept that He absolutely trusted the OT and commissioned the writing of the NT. We should not trust Jesus’ teaching in one area but then reject His teaching on the reliability and authority of the Scriptures. We cannot separate our view of Jesus from His view of the Scriptures.
The Bible bears all the marks of being the very Word of God. Christianity is a faith based in history with events verified by eyewitnesses and the power of the Gospel saving and transforming lives that has impacted the whole world and continues to do so today.
- Pastor Spencer Carpenter